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Best Community Colleges in Kansas

Two-year colleges can be a great waystation on your educational journey, whether you're looking to learn a new set of career skills or hoping to take a few courses on your way to one of the hundreds of degree programs at Kansas universities. More than two dozen community and technical colleges are available to students in the Jayhawk State, and the right degree or certificate program for you is out there waiting to be discovered.

Knowing which institutions are the best community colleges in Kansas can help you make sure that you're choosing the right school. We gathered data from the National Center for Education Statistics and crunched the numbers to sort the top Kansas community colleges from the rest -- check out our list of the ten best below.

THE TOP 10 COMMUNITY COLLEGES IN KANSAS

1

Independence Community College (Independence)

Originally established in 1925 as grades 13 and 14 of the Independence school system, Independence Community College became a full-fledged postsecondary institution in 1967. Enrollment at this southeastern Kansas school is around 1,000 students, so you might feel at home here if you like an intimate campus environment.

The catalog of degree and certificate programs at ICC includes close to 50 study plans, of which most are geared toward students seeking Associate of Arts (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees. Around a dozen certificate plans are available, in subjects like culinary arts, early childhood education and small business management.

Students interested in high-tech manufacturing and digital fabrication have access to a special learning center at ICC. The Fab Lab helps students, hobbyists, entrepreneurs and technicians explore today's technology-enabled design and production methods.

2

Cloud County Community College (Concordia)

The main campus of Cloud County Community College is located in Concordia, but it works to make its courses and degree programs available to residents of all 12 counties in its service area in northern central Kansas. The institution maintains nearly 30 satellite learning sites, including a robust second campus in Junction City.

Degrees available at CCCC include cutting-edge Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree plans in unmanned aircraft systems and wind energy technology, as well as numerous specialties in agricultural production and services. A variety of online courses are available as well, for students who need some additional schedule flexibility.

The campus has also taken steps to meet some of its energy needs with renewable power. CCCC maintains a small wind farm south of campus and relies on geothermal energy to power its heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

3

Allen Community College (Iola)

Around 40 associate degree programs are on offer at Allen Community College, including an Associate of General Studies (A.G.S.) program that's designed to provide a personal enrichment-oriented alternative to conventional degree plans. Allen has held classes at its main campus in Iola since 1970 and a secondary location opened in Burlingame in 1991.

The array of distance education offerings available at Allen earns it a spot among the top online community colleges in Kansas. The institution provides a range of online courses that can either be added into a campus-based study plan or used to earn your entire degree online.

Whether they attend campus-based or online courses, Allen students can get whatever help they need with their academic writing. The Iola campus maintains a brick-and-mortar writing center, and an online writing lab (OWL) is available during and after hours for online students.

4

Hutchinson Community College (Hutchinson)

Hutchinson Community College admitted its first class of fewer than 200 students in 1928 and it's grown in leaps and bounds since then. Today, the institution maintains a pair of off-campus sites in the cities of Newton and McPherson to help educate its student body of more than 5,600 learners.

Students at HCC have more than 120 academic majors to choose from. The catalog contains academic degrees in science, math and the humanities as well as career-focused programs in subjects like industrial technology, healthcare, education and agriculture.

The city of Hutchinson has a resident population of around 40,000, making it a great size for a college town. It also features a unique attraction for museum lovers: the Cosmosphere, a space and science center that was chosen as one of the first affiliate sites of the Smithsonian Institution.

5

Highland Community College (Highland)

By far the oldest institution on our list of the best Kansas community colleges, Highland Community College was first chartered as Highland University in 1858. While the institution's name has changed seven times over the years, its mission of providing quality higher education to the people of northeast Kansas has remained steadfast throughout.

Approximately 3,200 students attend courses here, primarily at the main Highland campus but also at 33 regional satellite locations. Close to 50 concentration areas are available for students pursuing academic degrees, as well as more than a dozen technical education programs.

The growing demand for online schools hasn't escaped HCC, either -- students can use distance education to fulfill individual course requirements or earn an entire degree. General A.A. and A.S. degrees are available online, as well as A.A.S. programs in business, criminal justice, personal training and more.

6

Neosho County Community College (Chanute)

Neosho County Community College prides itself on being one of the best community colleges in Kansas in terms of student success, and the numbers show that it does its part to make sure its students' educational needs are met. The average class size here is just 13 students, for example, and the student-faculty ratio was 12:1 in 2017.

The annual NCCC budget also indicates a high priority on student success. A recent fiscal report shows that classroom instruction and student services made up fully half of the year's expenditures, and more than 10 percent of spending went to student scholarships and other awards.

NCCC students can also complete the requirements for numerous degree and certificate programs exclusively through online classes. Its catalog of more than 30 distance programs makes it one of the most prolific online community colleges in Kansas.

7

Fort Scott Community College (Fort Scott)

This southeastern Kansas institution has one of the longer histories among community colleges in the state. Fort Scott Community College was founded in 1919 and has grown into a robust regional institution that serves nearly 2,000 students annually.

The catalog at FSCC is diverse, featuring standard academic majors in subjects like chemistry, psychology and art as well as career programs like the 11-credit emergency medical technician (EMT) certificate. There are some rare and specialized programs available here, also -- students who love working with machines can earn brand-backed technical certificates from John Deere and Harley Davidson.

If you like a quiet environment in which to study, you'll likely enjoy the city of Fort Scott. Fewer than 8,000 people live within the city limits and it's located nearly 100 miles from the nearest large metro area.

8

Coffeyville Community College (Coffeyville)

Coffeyville Community College is one of the most affordable options among the best community colleges in Kansas, at least in terms of the cost of tuition and fees. CCC charges students $72 per credit hour, which works out to less than $1,750 for two 12-credit semesters -- less than half the nationwide public two-year college average of $3,570 calculated in 2017.

CCC is a comprehensive community college, meaning that it offers academic programs as well as career training and technical certificates. The catalog contains nearly 20 academic degrees and more than a dozen each of technical programs and certificate plans.

Three locations are available to educate students in CCC's service area: the main campus in downtown Coffeyville and two technical campuses in Coffeyville and nearby Columbus. Total enrollment across the three locations is approximately 3,000 students.

9

Butler Community College (El Dorado)

Students who want the experience of a bustling campus and a large cohort of fellow learners may want to give extra consideration to Butler Community College, where the enrollment headcount was nearly 13,000 in 2017. This El Dorado institution was founded in 1927 and offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs.

A few of the initiatives in force at Butler show that it's committed to helping students achieve their college goals. It maintains close to 35 articulation agreements with Kansas colleges and universities and offers certain study plans through its Early College Academy program, allowing high school students to earn college credit.

Around 13,000 residents live in El Dorado proper, but students who want access to a big city in their downtime won't be disappointed. Wichita, with its population of nearly 450,000, is just 30 miles away.

10

Pratt Community College (Pratt)

We're not the only ones to recognize Pratt Community College as one of the top Kansas community colleges. The Aspen Institute, an international nonprofit that studies education worldwide, named the Pratt school among its top 150 community colleges four times in the past six years.

Technological career training plans are among the hallmark programs at PCC, which has been educating students in southern central Kansas for more than 75 years. Electrical lineman technology, agricultural power technology and automotive technology are all named among the top programs here.

Aspiring nurses can also earn their stripes at PCC, which has been training Kansas nurses since 1982. The primary nursing program here is delivered in two phases, allowing students to first earn a practical nursing (LPN) certificate and go on to prepare for registered nurse (RN) career with an A.A.S. in nursing.

Initiatives for Transfer Students

Community college can be a great springboard into a university program, especially for aspiring bachelor's graduates who want to save some money on the first two years of college. If you're thinking about taking this route through school, it's good to be aware of the programs and agreements that can help Kansas students make the switch after finishing their associate degree.

The farthest-reaching of such initiatives affects college students statewide, whether they're transferring out of community college or from one two-year school to another. The Kansas Board of Regents maintains a list of courses that have been approved for seamless transfer to any of the seven universities and 25 community and technical colleges overseen by the Board, provided the destination school offers an equivalent course.

More specific programs are in force at individual Kansas colleges and universities, such as the numerous articulation agreements that Kansas Wesleyan University holds with regional community colleges. Individual two-year schools may also have specific transfer programs that you can use to your advantage -- check with your adviser to learn more.

Methodology

We ranked 21 community colleges in Kansas on the following factors:

 Each school was scored on a 10-point scale, using the following six data points and the weights specified:

  1. The percentage of students enrolled in distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  2. Cost of attendance, based on the average net price for students receiving scholarship and grant aid, and the total cost of tuition, fees, books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  3. Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  4. The graduation rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  5. The transfer-out rate in 150% time, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016
  6. Flexibility, based on the following data points from the National Center for Education Statistics, 2016

a.       Whether the school offers credit for life experiences
b.      Whether the school offers programs of study that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
c.       Whether the school offers on-campus day care for students’ children
d.      Whether the school offers any kind of alternative tuition plan. These may include, but aren’t limited to, payment plans or guaranteed rates.

Article Sources
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  • About, The Cosmosphere, accessed July 13, 2018, http://cosmo.org/about/
  • QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed July 16, 2018: Hutchinson city, Kansas, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/hutchinsoncitykansas/PST045217; Fort Scott city, Kansas, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/fortscottcitykansas/PST045217; El Dorado city, Kansas, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/eldoradocitykansas/PST045217;
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